You long for the day when you can leave the house without children or hiring a babysitter. Will it ever come? When? How will you know if he's ready to stay home by himself? Here are a few guidelines to consider:
1. Does he follow your rules? If your child generally follows your rules without complaining about them, he may be ready to try a short time alone at home. A child who regularly butts heads with you should be told that by increasing responsible behavior and decreasing complaining, he'll get closer to achieving that goal.
2. Does he feel ready to stay home alone? Some children are not comfortable staying alone even in high school while others are perfectly content to try it in fourth or fifth grade. Never leave a child alone who doesn't want to be left, nor hint that there's anything wrong with him if he doesn't. Everyone matures in their own time.
3. Does he know what to do in an emergency? Unless a child has the maturity and presence of mind to remember to call 9-1-1, run to a neighbor's house for help, or follow other emergency procedures, he shouldn't be left alone.
4. Does he know how to use the telephone effectively? Children who don't know how to use the phone or avoid using it because they're not comfortable with it aren't ready to go solo.
5. Has he proven his responsibility? You know your child's responsibility level better than anyone else. If he takes initiative to do things he should without always being pushed, he may be trustworthy enough to handle the responsibility of being home alone. You are the best judge of that.
If you feel your child meets the above criteria, I'd start with a short trial in the daytime. Maybe a quick run to the grocery store. Try to keep it to a half hour or less. Then assess how he did, what he did while you were gone, and how he felt about being home alone. If all was well, you can start increasing the time little by little.
Note: Always write your contact information down for your child in case he needs to get in touch with you. Assure him he can call you for any reason, even if he just feels scared.
Some children like their parents to pray with them before they leave. This gives the reassurance that they're not truly home alone since God will be there with them every moment.
It's exciting to see your children grow into a responsible people. Let them know how proud you are of them!
At what age did you start leaving your children home alone? How did it go?